Curious to learn why our universe, at the largest scale, consists of clumps and filaments of matter interspersed with enormous voids—and have several billion years at your disposal? Draw up a chair. Wright has all the answers.
Yes, we’re still in the realm of fiction. This, the sixth and final chapter in the Eschaton sequence, following The Vindication of Man (2016), begins—as most of these books do—with post-human supergenius and uncouth libertarian Menelaus Illation Montrose waking in a remote future and struggling to understand where and when he is, his place in the larger scheme of things, and the whereabouts of two people, one his bitter rival, supercilious totalitarian Ximen del Azarchel, the other the mysterious Rania, whom both Menelaus and Ximen love and claim as their bride. Over the (billions of) years, the pair have fought many fatal yet inconclusive duels—but now so many copies of them exist that it’s doubtful one might be permanently removed. And where is Rania, whose mission was to contact the universe’s presiding intellect, a being a trillion trillion trillion times more intelligent than a base-line human and whose substance comprises superclusters of galaxies converted into smart matter? In substantial appendices Wright provides timelines, definitions, and historical summaries, none of which will help unless the foregoing makes sense. You may be aware, for instance, that scientists predict that in 2 billion years the Milky Way will collide with the Andromeda galaxy; in Wright’s account, this is not some random event but a coldblooded war fought between deadly philosophical antagonists. And you might wonder if the once-human characters tend to get lost against such a vast backdrop. Well, to a certain extent they do, but such is the scope and depth of Wright’s imagination that it doesn’t matter overmuch.
Intriguing, astounding stuff, though likely to appeal only to those who've read Wright's previous installments.